In the past, a pad controller was much of a secondary device. Something fitted into your midi keyboard as a bonus and was often seen as a luxury.
That has changed because nowadays you will find one at the heart of most producer’s setup. The pad controllers of the day are no longer used for triggering samples and clips or tapping out beats. They are practice instruments enabling you to compose and record bass lines, chords, and melodies.
Shopping for you first MIDI controller can be overwhelming, especially if you are just starting up in production. We can start with breaking down and narrowing your search for the controller that will perfectly suit your needs. Here is a list of the products you can check out.
Akai Professional MPD218 | MIDI Drum Pad Controller with Software
The Akai Professional MPD218 | MIDI Drum Pad Controller with Software product has everything a producer would need. This includes; free software titles Ableton Live Lite, Akai Pro MPC Essentials, SONiVOX Big Bang Cinematic, Percussion, and Big Bang Universal Drums, Simple, small, feature-packed pad controller for finger drumming and music production 16 Thick Fat backlit MPC pads (48 assignable pads accessible via three banks). Six control knobs (18 assignable knobs accessible via three banks). USB-powered through a computer, no AC adapter required
User-friendly, comfortable and easy to use
Brings a classic beat making the experience in your production.
Very flexible due to the three banks for the pads plus the encoder knobs
There were also complains that unintentional notes are a common occurrence with these controllers
Though it seems like a complicated item, it`s very easy to use. Plus it’s super durable, very flexible and Many of the users found it to seamlessly integrate with creative projects offering a reliable control source for sending continuous messages to virtual instruments
Akai Professional MPC Studio Black Music Production Controller with 7+GB
The MPC Studio Black is a unique product from Akai Professional. It takes a combination of MPC pads, MPC software, and iconic workflow, of the MPC Renaissance to provide the user with a fully integrated portable production solution. It is also versatile and can be connected to the computer.
Many customers found it easily portable
Dynamic and easily flexible without much complication
Super sensitive as the product features 49 semi-weighted keys with after touch pressure sensitivity.
There were complains of damaged pads.
It is compatible with other devices such as a computer which makes it a versatile item. Again, it is less complicated and, therefore easy to use even for starters.
M-Audio Code 49 Black | 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller
This M-Audio Code 49 Black | 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller comes with a 49 full-size, velocity-sensitive keys. It also includes an after touch as well as four split zones. Additionally, its layering along with the LCD provides enables this pad to provide real-time parameter feedback.
Most people found the product easily portable.
Sensitive and responsive
Most of the customers liked the quality of the building material
Some music producers complained about the size and complexity of the product.
It provides real-time feedback which is good for music composition and production. On the other hand, it is responsive and compatible with various drums.
Alesis VI25 | Advanced 25-Key USB MIDI Keyboard & Drum Pad Controller (16 Pads / 8 Knobs / 24 Buttons)
The Alesis VI25 is a special kind of midi controller. It is an advanced kind of controller with USB capability designed to give the user full command of the music software. Among its accessories, it comes with a number of knobs, buttons, and pads that ease the need to have a mouse.
High responsiveness to velocity and pressure.
Integrate easily into music software.
Easy to expand with other Alesis drum components
Some customers complained about unresponsive controller keys
Some music producers complained about broken parts (especially the knobs).
The pad provides exclusive control of the music. It also an easy one to integrate with music software which makes it a valuable item to anybody in the music industry.
Worlde Panda MINI Portable 25 Keys USB MIDI Keyboard MIDI Controller with Drum Pad
The Worlde Panda MINI Portable comes with 8 Trigger Pads with velocity and assignable to controllers, with three velocity curve and one constant velocity. 25 keys with velocity assignable to controllers, with three velocity curve and one constant velocity. Four assignable control knobs, four assignable control sliders, four banks for different settings. USB interface, adaptable to USB 2.0(FULL SPEED). Power supplied by USB.
Compatible and very easy to integrate.
Easy to carry around.
Easy to use.
Real-time control for almost all parameters.
Some music producers were upset that there were no instructions
As most people who have used this pad confirm, it is easily portable and easy to integrate. It offers real-time control to most of its parameters.
Key Considerations When Buying a Midi Drum Pad
Buying a Midi Drum Pad controller can be an exciting prospect because it gives you a more holistic production experience, however, with the wide variety of them out there, it’s important to know what exactly to outlook for. Here are some of the factors to consider.
Size of pads – Make sure the Pads are large enough to make sure you can play easily with your fingers. This will not only enhance efficiency but also give you a great experience making sure you are comfortable while at it.
Responsiveness of the pads – This goes without saying that the pads need to be responsive and playable enough. You don’t want pads that are not responsive enough around you; this will not only affect the quality of your work but also waste a lot of your time.
Ease of programming the pads – It is essential to see if you can program the pads to different layouts or different sounds on your DAW. This is especially important as everyone has their unique playing style when it comes to percussion MIDI controllers. Some prefer to use it when playing fast drum lines while some prefer to use it when triggering sound samples they have sliced up in their DAW.
Budget – While looking out there for a MIDI drum pad you will be required to pay more for a recognized brand. Go for high quality and reliable brand that will save on your budget in the long run.
The number of keys – If you want to purchase a MIDI Keyboard controller, you will need to ask yourself how many keys you will need on the device. The options are 25-key, 49-key, 61-key, and 88-Key. Do you need a full-sized stage piano controller, or can you get by with a smaller, more portable 25-key? Smaller MIDI keyboards allow you to be more portable as you can chuck the small keyboard controller in your backpack with you. Also, make sure to check the sizes of the keys. I noted for instance that the Novation MIDI keyboard controllers have smaller, narrower keys. But if you’re used to the full standard piano key size, then check for one that suits your needs.
Would you prefer DAW Dedicated Controllers?
Some developers are creating controllers with enhanced integration much with their applications, like Ableton’s Push and Native Instruments’ Machine and Komplete keyboards. Let’s say you’re using Ableton for instance; you might consider using the Push in your music productions because of this tight integration as it might improve your workflow and quality of work.
By now, you should have an amazing understanding of the functionalities that modern MIDI drum pads can grant to you as a producer. There’s no doubt that they’ll continue to expand and grow far beyond their traditional use, as there seems to be a technological trend breathing new life into the devices with every release.
A solid MIDI drum pad can bring new creativity and motivation to producers, especially those who are more rhythm-oriented than musically-inclined.
If you don’t want to be locked into specific DAW compatibility, we’d recommend giving the Akai MPD 226 a serious look. It will work with – and has configurations for – just about every major DAW. You can get this thing set up and working pretty quickly